First Ice

My first ice-climbing of the season got off to a discouraging start this weekend. Saturday was very cold; I struggled to stay warm in single-digit (Farenheit) temperatures, especially since my extremities tend to get cold with my poor circulation. There was no snow on the ground, so we were tromping about on frozen moss, leaves and lichen, getting leaves stuck in our crampons. Because temperatures had been very low but there had not been much in the way of precipitation/moisture, the ice was super brittle and locked up. I didn’t feel particularly secure with my footing (my right foot) or my tool placements. I really thought, man, maybe this ice-climbing business really isn’t my cup of tea.

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Thin, brittle, shitty ice on Saturday

I was anticipating a pretty shitty day of climbing in the forecasted freezing rain on Sunday. But, the day turned out to be unexpectedly fantastic. The “sn-icing” stopped by early morning and because of the overnight heavy snow and moisture, the ice conditions were fantastic. The approach to the cliff was not trivial for me; breaking tracks in deep snow is really hard for me. The ice was like butter compared to the previous day. Learned a lot about anchor/v-threads (ice-climbers love to bail!). I did my first multi-pitch ice-route and my first lead on ice! I think being methodical and deliberate, and pretty calm, makes me a pretty good ice leader. I think I do a pretty good job of taking the time to find a good stance and placing my ice-screws in solid ice, rather than rushing to shove whatever screw in, wherever. There’s a lot I still need to work on, like getting my feet higher up with each tool placement, rather than just matching tools and trying to yard myself up, although I do have to do that sometimes when a left high step is involved. I think staying warm will be key for me, because I shut down when I’m freezing.

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Love my warmer temperatures and the security of tethers to my tools

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